Best hiking boots 2021: sturdy boots to tackle any track or trail

We walk you through the best hiking boots around, to provide comfort, protection and support on your adventures

best hiking boots 2021: person standing on a rocky mountain
(Image credit: Ali Kazal on Unsplash)

A pair of the best hiking boots should be very near the top of any outdoor kit list. As every keen outdoor adventurer knows, it’s very hard to enjoy much of anything if your feet aren’t super-comfortable – and long days hiking through beautiful scenery will be an absolute pleasure when you've got reliable, well-fitted boots to help share the load. In this guide, we've reviewed the best hiking boots for a range of uses and budgets, to help you find the perfect pair for you.

While there are a vast range of hiking boots on the market, there are some key things all of the best hiking boots have in common. A stiffer sole than street shoes with plenty of grip is essential, solid upper that’ll last well and protect your feet from trail debris, and good ankle support are also critical. Most modern boots have a waterproof membrane in them too, which is generally a good idea in all but the hottest and driest climate. Finally, and most importantly for your feet, fit is the biggest comfort factor, and varies enormously from one brand to the next. If your at-home tests aren't comfortable, return and try another brand or style. 

To avoid blisters, make sure you follow advice for breaking in hiking boots effectively – not all the boots in this guide will be ready to take on a 10-miler straight out of the box. For more casual strolls, you might also want to consider a pair of the best walking shoes. If not, read on for our review of the best hiking boots right now. 

Black Friday walking boot deals 2021
We often see decent price-drops on outdoor gear, including hiking boots, amongst the best Black Friday deals. If you're in the market for some new walking footwear, we'll be reporting on any decent offers as soon as they appear, in the run-up to 26 November and on the day itself. 

The best hiking boots you can buy right now

Jack Wolfskin Wilderness Lite Texapore Mid-height hiking boot in blue-grey with black detailsT3 Award Winner sponsored by Wiggle

(Image credit: Jack Wolfskin)

This T3 Award winner is 2021's best hiking boot

Upper: synthetic textile
Outsole: Vibram
Waterproofing: Texapore O2+
Reasons to buy
+Rugged and robust+Vibram soles deliver excellent grip+Breathable upper
Reasons to avoid
-Too chunky for light summer strolls-Slightly narrow fit

Designed with intrepid mountain hikers in mind, the Jack Wolfskin Wilderness Lite is our pick for the best hiking boot right now. A technical boot that's not stiff, heavy or bulky, these will cope comfortably with whatever you throw at them. Seriously grippy Vibram soles will keep you sure-footed even on tricky terrain, they're fully waterproof with Texapore technology, and a tough toe box and a high cut around the ankle provide further protection on uneven trails. They're comfy straight out of the box, too. While they're reasonably breathable and won't weigh you down on an all-day trek, we think the 'Lite' moniker is a bit of a stretch – there are lighter boots in our ranking if that's your priority. We were so impressed in our tests that we gave these a 2021 T3 Award for best hiking boot. Head to our full Jack Wolfskin Wilderness Lite Texapore Mid review for more info.

Inov8 Roclite G 345 GTX Men's hiking boot in teal blue with fluoro yellow details

(Image credit: Inov8)

The best fast and light hiking boots

Upper material: Cordura mesh, textile
Sole type: Graphene Grip
Waterproof technology: Gore-Tex
Reasons to buy
+Incredibly grippy+Long life Graphene+Very lightweight
Reasons to avoid
-Not the most ankle support-Can be a bit cold

Although it's a fierce battle, the Roclite G 345 GTX are the best hiking boots for men right now. These 2020 T3 Awards prize-winners will enable you to move fast and light through any terrain. We're partial to a bit of tech at T3, and trail experts Inov-8 have an award-winning trick up their sleeve (or sock): a Graphene-infused sole unit. The wonder-material adds strength, hardness and elasticity, resulting in up to 50% better wear – especially relevant for these deep 6mm lugs. It's not all marketing talk either, with these gracing the feet of athletes taking on some of the toughest outdoor challenges around, such as the UK's ultra-marathon Spine Race.

Designed for fast hiking, the grip is certainly phenomenal on wet rock and muddy grass alike, a fact aided by the highly flexible but shanked midsole. Weight is minimal, leaning into that trail running heritage, at 345g (size 8.5), you'll barely notice these on your feet – certainly until the miles really stack up. The bellows-style tongue is another trail-essential, keeping small stones and dust out of your boots, as is the low heel, allowing a full range of movement while providing more support than a standard shoe with the extra front lacing. 

Elsewhere the Gore-Tex liner should keep damp at bay, while a Powerflow midsole delivers a claimed 10% better shock absorption and 15% better energy return than standard midsoles. This fast-and-light hiker is guaranteed to keep you right-side up and dry on the longest days out. Head to our Inov-8 Roclite G 345 GTX review for more info.

Arcteryx Acrux TR GTX boot, all black

(Image credit: Arcteryx )

A mountain-ready and deceptively minimalist design for keen hikers

Upper material: SuperFabric
Sole type: Vibram Megagrip
Waterproof technology: Gore-Tex
Reasons to buy
+Lightweight+Abrasion resistant+Mountain-ready
Reasons to avoid
-Prioritises precision over protection

Slimline, minimalist but practical is what we have some to expect from the Canadian outdoor brand Arcteryx, and the Acrux TR GTX is another good example, and well worth a spot in our best men's hiking boots ranking. A high rubber rand protects much of the upper from sharp rocks and abrasion, bending into a 'SuperFabric' upper – the latter employing unique micro-plated technology to remain lightweight but robust.

An almost-obligatory Gore-Tex liner will keep damp at bay, and overall weight is low for a mountain boot, at a claimed 550g (heavier than the Inov8 Rocklite, but lighter than the Hanwag Banks), leaving more spring in your step at the end of a long day. Underfoot the Vibram Megagrip outsole and aggressive lugs will deliver non-slip traction on rock, mud or scree alike, while the low heel will give plenty of flex in the ankle for moving through rugged terrain. Overall there's little to dislike here, and much to commend in an all-round trekking/hiking boot for most occasions. 

For more info, head to our Arcteryx Acrux TR GTX boot review – or see how they compare to our #1 rated boot in our Inov-8 Roclite vs Arcteryx Acrux Tr hiking boots face-off.

Hoka One One TenNine Hike GTX hiking boot in blue with pink and orange details and chunky, extended sole

(Image credit: Hoka One One)

The best walking boots for speed

Upper material: Ripstop textile
Sole type: Vibram Megagrip
Waterproof technology: Gore-Tex
Reasons to buy
+Fast rocker soles+Enormous heel for energy return+Light
Reasons to avoid
-Looks aren't for everyone-Lack of precision on rockier terrain

The Hoka OneOne TenNine Hike GTX are set up for trail speed, armed with a long pedigree of fast and light trail tools that have won epic endurance races round the world. The obvious feature – that jutting 'Hubble geometry' heel provides masses of energy retention, while an endlessly deep sole unit soaks up everything the trail can throw at you. The physics are in your favour too, with an enormous contact area via the Vibram Megagrip sole and chunky 5mm lugs, there's very little chance of parting company with the earth in these monsters. 

Weighing in at a mere 504g, an inner Gore-tex lining keeps toes dry, and recycled materials in the upper go some way to salving your sustainability concerns. On the downside, RRP is relatively forceful for a dedicated speed-walking boot, and Hoka OneOne's own instructions warn not to 'operate vehicles' or 'navigate stairs' while wearing the boots – so Crib Goch is right out. And the design and colourways isn't Overall, the Hoka OneOne TenNine Hike GTX are innovative, eye-catching, and deliver an enormously plush ride as promised. No all-rounder, but as a dedicated fast-tracker, these are perfect. 

Head to our Hoka OneOne TenNine Hike GTX review to find out more, or check out our Hoka One One TenNine Hike GTX vs Columbia Facet 45 article to see how these two unusual looking designs compare.

Jack Wolfskin Force Striker Texapore hiking boots with red detail

(Image credit: Jack Wolfskin)

Super-protective mile-munchers for all round comfort

Upper material: Textile
Sole type: Vibram Megagrip
Waterproof technology: Texapore o2
Reasons to buy
+Very protective +Plenty of traction+Stable platform
Reasons to avoid
-Might be a bit warm in summer

 The Jack Wolfskin Force Striker Texapore boot is not a shy and retiring boot, it’s chunky in most dimensions and radiates the kind of knockabout robustness you’d hope for in a hiking companion. There’s a few factors mixed into that impression - the high ankle and substantial padding offer serious support for tiring legs, while the forefoot ‘force plate’ hidden in the sole unit adds stiffness and protection all in one. This makes a relatively lightweight boot seem much more substantial - an ingenious trick. That said, the mesh and fabric upper does a great job of shedding weight while keeping things breathable, as does the Texapore o2 membrane. 

Running through the boot is a solid seam of quality components too, which add little by little to a good overall impression - the alloy lace hooks for example - and of course the all-important sole unit. That’s moulded from Vibram Megagrip, offering fierce grip on uneven and rocky terrain. Overall, the  Jack Wolfskin Force Striker Texapore boot has lots to say for itself, and not much to complain about - a worthy competitor. Read our full Jack Wolfskin Force Striker Texapore hiking boot review for more details.

Keen Ridge Flex WP hiking boots

(Image credit: Keen )

Old school looks; new school comfort

Upper material: Leather and performance mesh
Sole type: Keen All-Terrain rubber
Waterproof technology: Keen.Dry
Reasons to buy
+Designed for comfort+Robust build+PFC-free waterproofing
Reasons to avoid
-Traditional styling

New for 2021, the Keen Ridge Flex WP has the makings of a bit of a classic, combining the elements of several recognisable Keen boots into one, along with some new technology to boot. There’s the mid-ankle support and robust padding of the Keen Targhee on show here, as well as a proprietary waterproof membrane and similarly in-house sole unit. Environmentally preferred leather panels make up a sizable percentage of the upper, adding plenty of foot protection and durability to the upper. 

The new technology element is the Keen bellows system, which Keen claims reduces the amount of energy required to flex the sole on each step by 60%. The bellows section sits just above the toe box, allowing the upper to flex seamlessly, and also avoiding the age-related cracking and damage that can occur in this high-use area. This also means less requirement to wear the boots in - the flex is already built in - making for a more comfortable boot even when box-fresh. It’s an ingenious concept, and adds quite a few benefits to an otherwise stolid and robust boot - well worth considering for lower-level treks and longer day hikes. Head to our Keen Ridge Flex WP hiking boot review to find out more.

Inov-8 Roclite Pro G 400 men's hiking boot

(Image credit: Inov-8)

The best hiking boot if you need toughness without weight or bulk

Upper material: Schoeller ceramic-coated fabric
Sole type: Graphene grip
Waterproof technology: Gore-Tex
Reasons to buy
+Super tough+Very lightweight
Reasons to avoid
-Might be overkill

For the hardiest hikers, the Inov-8 Roclite Pro G 400 GTX might be the best hiking boot for you. These combine the Graphene outsole found in our number 1 pick (tweaked to add water-dispersion grooves, to make these even gripper on wet ground) with a super-protective Schoeller ceramic-coated fabric upper. Inov-8 has also added extra cushioning in both the forefoot and rear, and a high-cut ankle collar for extra stability. They're slightly heavier than the lightest of the Inov-8 boot range, but they're still impressively lightweight. If you're looking for a boot that'll enable you to move fast and light over the trickiest terrain, these are a great choice. Head to our Inov-8 Roclite Pro G 400 GTX review for more info.

Berghaus Hillwalker Trek hiking boot

(Image credit: Berghaus)

8. Berghaus Hillwalker Trek Goretex

Excellent lightweight trekker for the lowlands

Upper material: Textile, suede
Sole type: Opti-stud
Waterproof technology: Gore-Tex Extended Comfort
Reasons to buy
+Lightweight +Competitively priced +Waterproof
Reasons to avoid
-Size up small and narrow

 The Berghaus Hillwalker Trek is intended for lowland rambles and treks - generally getting out and enjoying the footpaths and byways nearest you - and does an admirable job at a keen price point. Lightweight and breathable thanks to plenty of fabric in the upper, and a Gore-Tex membrane too, this won’t weigh you down unnecessarily, but provides robust protection where it counts. 

Suede panels on the toe and heel and a high mid-foot rand should keep sharp stones and the like at bay, while a low ankle offers just enough support without getting too serious (or warm in the summer months). Finally the Opti-Stud sole unit is surprisingly aggressive, offering excellent grip on muddier descents, wet grass and general sponginess. In short, if you’re looking for a footpath mile-cruncher that won’t break the bank - or your feet - the Berghaus Hillwalker Trek is well worth a look. See how it matches up against another great traditional hiking boot range in our Berghaus Hillwalker Trek vs Hanwag Banks faceoff.

Salomon Quest 4D 3 GTX hiking boot in orange and grey

9. Salomon Men's Quest 4D 3 GTX

Show the mountains who’s boss with these hiking boots for all terrains

Upper material: Nubuck leather, textile
Sole type: Contragrip TD
Waterproof technology: Gore-Tex
Reasons to buy
+Rugged and durable+Enhanced stability+Supremely comfortable
Reasons to avoid
-Some reviews report unreliable waterproofing

Winner of the T3 Awards 2019 for Best Hiking Boots, the waterproof Salomon Quest 4D 3 GTX will see you over any mountain pass, powering you onwards in sheer comfort come rain or shine. They’re a backpackers dream too, supporting you under heavy pack loads, and are designed to fully cradle and support your foot and ankle with each step. Foot fatigue is reduced, which is a boon on longer, heftier walking days, and the EnergyCell EVA midsole helps to reduce shock impact. 

Though they’re fully robust, the Quest 4D 3 GTX aren’t as heavy as you’d think and are breathable enough to be worn during the warmer months whenever you need full support. The Contragrip sole with deep lug pattern dishes out mega traction on mixed terrain, boosting your confidence to tackle harder trails that may have previously felt out of reach. SensiFit tech provides a secure fit by cradling your foot from the midsole through to the Lace Locker lacing system, while a gusseted tongue stops debris and small stones from sneaking into your boots. They’ll have your back each step of the way.

Adidas Men's Terrex Free Hiker Parley hiking boot with sock-style ankle section

(Image credit: Adidas)

10. Adidas Men's Terrex Free Hiker

The best hiking boots for causal wanders, from city to trail

Upper material: Primeknit textile
Sole type: Continental Rubber
Waterproof technology: None
Reasons to buy
+Super comfortable fit +Style plus substance
Reasons to avoid
-Not waterproof-There are sturdier options

The Adidas Terrex have been a fixture in best hiking boot circles since they first launched, and are great for light-to-medium intensity hikes. The Primeknit upper has an elasticated sock-like fit that grips the foot and prevents friction blisters (you may want to size up for the best fit), and at 400g for men's and 340g for women's, these are very lightweight indeed. Stiffer EVA sections of the sole unit provide stability, while the bulk of the midsole is Adidas’ Boost material – found on some of the best running shoes – which delivers impressive energy return on each stride. Finally the outsole is mounded from grippy Continental rubber, with decent lugs to deal with muddier moments. For more technical or taxing trails, plus anything muddy (these aren't waterproof), look elsewhere in this list. But if you're after a stylish boot that's ready to wear right out of the box, the Adidas Terrex are a great choice.  

There are also some special edition alternatives to consider – for example, for the Free Hiker Parley, Adidas teamed up with Parley for the Oceans to take plastic pollution that is collected on shorelines and in coastal areas and recycle it into the upper elements of the boot.

Hanwag Banks Winter GTX tall hiking boots

(Image credit: Hanwag)

The best walking boots for keeping warm in the winter

Upper material: Nubuck Suede
Sole type: Vibram IceTrek
Waterproof technology: Gore-Tex
Reasons to buy
+Very warm indeed+Tuned up ice grip+High ankle support
Reasons to avoid
-Too soft for hardcore treks

The Hanwag Banks Winter GTX boots are immediately recognisable as being based on the Hanwag Banks pattern, offering a robust and relatively traditional walking boot platform. That's no bad thing, the nubuck upper offering excellent durability but relatively low weight, and a traditional mountain boot sole that'll grip mud, rock and snow equally well. 

Hanwag has not been idle on the winter front though, adding in a variety of anti-cold technologies to keep your toes comfy. These include a higher-than usual ankle, trapping warmth and also increasing support, an insulated aluminium-layered footbed, and a Vibram Icetrek sole material that grips better in icy conditions. However, what you'll notice first is the inside of that raised ankle, resplendently lined with Gore-Tex Partelana. This gives a plush and snug fit to comfort the coldest feet, while still remaining breathable. Although too soft for hardcore mountain adventures, these Hanwags look and feel the part for low-level trekking and winter walking in serious comfort. (There's a women's version too: check out the Hanwag Banks Winter GTX Women's Boots here.) For more info, head to our Hanwag Banks Winter GTX boots review.

Columbia Facet 45 Outdry Boot with sock style ankle section

(Image credit: Columbia)

Futuristic and fast, these are the best walking boots for around town

Upper material: Ballistic textile
Sole type: Omni-Grip
Waterproof technology: OutDry
Reasons to buy
+Snug sock fit+Kinetic lacing system +Grippy sole
Reasons to avoid
-Not for serious expeditions

There's a lot of innovation packed into the Columbia Facet 45 Outdry Boot, but the biggest draw has to be that Back To The Future-esque lacing system, not only looking very futuristic, but even dubbed a 'kinetic lacing' system by Columbia. This system grips the foot better than you might expect, also aided by the sock-like ankle system. As there are no laces or closures to fiddle with, this is very low hassle, though a firm yank is required to don/doff them – fortunately aided by large finger loops front and back. Angular-shaped overlays add protection to the toes and the upper textile, as well as lay down more of the 'facet' design ethic.

Elsewhere, there's an OutDry membrane to keep damp out, a beefy Omni-Grip sole that'll stick to most surfaces without marking them, and, less obviously, a deep heel cushion. That helps create a generous pocket that traps the heel neatly, preventing heel lift and ensuring a good fit. The lower ankle profile, amongst other things, mean the Facet 45's will quickly run out of puff on a serious hillwalking expedition. However, they're perfect for low-level rambles and an ideal crossover town-country option for lighter walks. Either way, till the real hoverboards arrive, this is your next best bet for all-round walking comfort. Head to our full Columbia Facet 45 Outdry hiking boot review for more info.

Other models: Columbia Facet 45 Outdry women's

How to choose the best hiking boots

The two key things to prioritise when hunting for the best hiking boot for you: finding the right boot style for the activity, and getting a really good fit for your individual foot shape. The fit will vary by brand and style of boot, with some coming up much narrower (or broader) in the midfoot than others. It's absolutely vital to try boots on before embarking on an expedition, and usually wearing them round the house before removing the retail labels is enough to show up any hotspots that could lead to painful difficulties further down the line. Head to our guide to how to break in hiking boots for some top tips (and our guide to how to treat blisters if the worst comes to the worst).

Although there are some stunning and super-technical hiking boots that might catch your eye, make sure you actually need the features they're offering before you shell out. Super-stiff mountain boots can be a trial on casual Sundays strolls, but equally, rocking up in trainers for a snowy ascent is a terrible idea. Generally though, the extra support of a good hiking boot will see you happily meander wherever the fancy takes you.

The golden rule is to buy what fits, and a model that suits your main use. In terms of brands, at the more robust end of the spectrum La Sportiva, Scarpa, Mammut, Lowa and Aku all build boots that will shame a tank, while at the lighter, summery end Teva, Keen and Salomon bring considerable expertise to the table.

Hiking boot materials and technologies

Construction-wise, old-school full leather hiking boots are rare beasts these days, not only because of cost but also because they need months of breaking in before extended use. Modern boots use a range of synthetic materials in addition to leather panels, so are much softer out of the box. Indeed, the latest thermo-fitted/NestFit models are pretty much ready to rock straight off the shop floor, although wearing around the house or to and from work is still a good idea before leaving on a major expedition.

Outdoor tech has come a long way in recent years, with huge strides being made in the way the best hiking boots are designed and built, from tech geared to keeping your toes warm in sub-zero conditions, to innovations that help you stay upright on the most treacherous and slippery trails. Here are a few of the most popular hiking boot technologies, and what they do:

  • Vibram Megagrip (enhanced traction)
  • Gore-tex (improved waterproofing)
  • NestFit (bio-mapping for comfort)
  • Thermo Tech Application technology (better support)
  • CleanSport NXT (odour control)

Best hiking boots: features to look for

In a nutshell, you're looking for boots that are luxuriously comfortable, unstintingly waterproof, heroically breathable, tank-like in their ruggedness, and offer as much grip as Spider-Man's socks. It’s essential to get the right rating for your hiking boot – wearing B3 double-boots for summer trekking will be hell, as will attempting the likes of Indicator Wall in Converse. Overall, you’re looking for ankle support from a boot – which in the hills can be vital when a stone shifts underfoot – but also a comfortable fit.

A snug (not tight) fit minimises heel lift, as well as assorted blisters at ‘hot spots’ like heels and toes (although we'd always recommend a pair of the best hiking socks for an added layer of protection). When seeking out winter boots (B1+) this is particularly important, as a loose fit will see your toes smash into the toe box when using crampons, and the stiffer sole will also exaggerate heel lift unless the heel pocket fits just right.  

The accepted wisdom is to try on hiking boots in the afternoons, once your feet have expanded, and take a range of socks to try them on with. Thin office socks are helpful to show up any obvious shape mismatches and pressure points, before moving on to your preferred walking sock

Do experiment with sock fit as well as boot fit, as even the most expensive socks are cheap compared to boots, and some of the more specialised socks can make a real difference to your hiking comfort. 

Hiking boots come in different weights. Generally speaking, any weighing 400-500g and under are best suited to speed hiking, trail running (some types, not all) or day to day off-road use. Dog walkers and fairweather hikers, you'll like these ones.

Hiking boots that are tough enough to withstand multi-day hikes, where you might be carrying a heavy load on your back, are usually heavier. The trade-off for that extra weight is that these types of technical boots are much more supportive.

Do I need specific boots for hiking?

Hiking boots, as a term, is a broad church, but the main reasons you’ll need some for the rough stuff are their blend of protection, grip and stiffness. Standard street boots – Doctor Martens, for example – might offer some ankle support by lacing up high, but a lack of ankle padding will cut you to ribbons on a long trek. 

Most modern hiking boots include a waterproof membrane, which will be useful when you head off the beaten track. In addition, hiking and mountain boots often incorporate a raised 'rand', a rubber buffer over the leather of the boot nearest the sole, which protects the boot from sharp stone cuts when walking across scree. 

Hiking boot soles will also be much stiffer than street shoes/boots to shrug off rough surfaces, incorporating aggressive tread for better grip on wet grass, moss or mud, and often cleverly-placed sticky rubber areas for extra grip on wet rock. That stiffer sole gets a grade from B0 to B3-B0 and below, making them fine for casual summer hikes, but too flexible for crampons. Meanwhile, B1-3 boots offer increasing levels of stiffness to accommodate increasingly technical rigid crampon use. This might sound excessive for the causal walker, but if you’re hill walking in the UK winter, opting for a stiffer crampon-compatible walking boot is highly recommended, as conditions can change fast.

A lighter-weight alternative is a walking shoe. Check out our walking boots vs walking shoes explainer if you're deciding between the two.